False alarm? (Illustration)
False alarm? (Illustration) Thinkstock

Sirens sounded nationwide in Israel at 11:05 a.m. and again at 7:05 p.m., as part of an emergency preparedness drill.

Israel's National Emergency Exercise began Sunday morning, supervised by the National Emergency Authority (NEA) of the Ministry of Defense, the Home Front Command (HFC), emergency officials, government ministries, local authorities, security organizations, theeducation system, and public and private entities.

Various emergency and wartime scenarios throughout the country will beplayed out over a five-day period, in the private and public sector, which will be operated by the National Emergency Authority and the Home Front Command.

The operation has been dubbed "Turning Point." 

IDF, government preparations

The Northern Command will hold exercises dealing with routine security events and operational response and defensive fighting, focusing on the defense and civilian fronts equally. 

Parallel exercises will be held in the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and Israeli Naval Force (INF); military traffic will increase throughout the country until Thursday and there will be a high proportion of military vehicles on the roads, naval traffic by sea, and air traffic overhead. 

"This week, as noted, will be characterized by various exercises throughout the country, carried out in accordance with the annual trainingsystem, for training purposes," the IDF stated Sunday. 

Special emphasis will be given on an exercise for preparedness assessments for the National Infrastructure (electricity, water, gas, etc.) for emergencies, as well as the enhancement of coordination and cooperation between all government ministries led by NEA.

On the home front

On Tuesday, sirens sounded at 11:05 a.m. and again at 7:05 p.m. local time in every area except the Gaza Belt. 

All Israelis in siren areas were instructed to run to their local shelters for both practice drills; the exercise also tests the quality and conditions of every siren in the country.  

The warning was to appear on radio and television, and on websites; half an hour before the alarm, a reminder was to be distributed via SMS. 

If a real event had occured, an alarm would have sounded again and a formal announcement would have been distributed to various media outlets.

The IDF Spokesperson emphasizes that the exercise, which is being held for the eighth year, was planned in advance.

"The exercise is an opportunity to prepare the public for emergencies, examining the various systems and inter-organizational coordination and improve preparedness and emergency response to defend the home front," said army spokesman.